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CNN TONIGHT

Trump Regrets Committing to a Peaceful Transfer of Power; Democrats Threaten to Impeach Donald Trump; Allies Abandon Trump; Twitter Permanently Bans Donald Trump; The Powerful Video You've Got To See; Federal Charges Announced After Capitol Hill Riot; Social Media and Tech World are Grappling with Extremism on Platforms; Feds Say Police Found a Truck Full of Bombs and Guns Near Capitol as Insurrection Investigation Continues; CNN Obtains Draft of Article of Impeachment Against President Trump, Accuses Him of Inciting Insurrection. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired January 8, 2021 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[23:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Fast moving developments tonight, Donald Trump's presidency unraveling. Twitter permanently banning him saying it's taking the action due to the risk of further incitement of violence. And Trump's GOP support starting to crumble. Senator Lisa Murkowski, the first Republican Senator to publicly call for Trump to resign, telling an anchorage newspaper, and I quote here, I want him out. He has caused enough damage.

This is how Speaker Nancy Pelosi demands Trump resign immediately or Democrats will move to impeach him starting Monday for inciting insurrection.

Joining me now is CNN White House correspondent John Harwood and senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju. Gentlemen, hello to both of you. John, the president, the presidency is unraveling. Donald Trump's presidency. The president tried to clean things up yesterday by agreeing to a peaceful transfer of power as we reported here. But now The New York Times is reporting that he is regretting that. What is going on inside the White House?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We've got a mentally unstable man who still has the most formidable powers in the world for the next 11 or 12 days. Who is raging against this defeat, he suffered a gravest, psychic injury? He can't accept it. He's out of touch with reality. All of Washington is scared. The people are trying to figure out how to keep him from doing more harm to the country than he's already done with -- by inciting that insurrection on Wednesday.

And so, you've got Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, communicating with the chairman, the joint chiefs. You have got talked about the 25th amendment. You have got cabinet officers and White House aides resigning. All people -- in impeachment effort is going on or getting underway in the House. All of these is part of an effort to pressure the president into not doing further things that are dangerous. And it got a response. He reacted to the pressure with that statement

last night. Where he acknowledged he is not going to be president after January 20th. But of course, as with all statements of that kind that he's proud beaten into making, he doesn't really mean it. And he can't accept the reality of the situation.

[23:05:03]

LEMON: Manu, you have been at the Capitol all week. These images show that it's still a disaster. But Democrats are pushing forward with impeachment. What are you hearing about their plants?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Yes, they're moving pretty quickly. Because what Nancy Pelosi is saying to her members is that if the president does not resign, or Vice President Mike Pence does not invoked the 25th amendment along with the cabinet taking those extraordinary constitutional measures to force the president out of office. If that doesn't happen, she's saying the House is going to move forward. And they're already taking steps to begin that impeachment process, a very quick one by any historical standards.

This would be lightning fast to bring an impeachment resolution to the floor in just a matter of days. What they are looking at is by Monday, officially introducing an article of impeachment for inciting insurrection. It will go on one count, it will detail his actions since the election, culminating in his incitement about violent mob on Wednesday.

And then when the House, assuming they go forward and they vote, the House would vote probably by mid-week next week. And then the question will be how quickly will it move to the Senate? When will they actually have a Senate trial? Because, Don, tonight, all indications are pointing to that any Senate trial would occur after Donald Trump leaves office after January 20th when the Democrats take control of the Senate.

At that point they could move to bar him from running from future office again if they have the support to do just that. That's a question. Are Republicans are going to go along with this effort? Right now, we know most if not all Democrats are going to go along for that. How will Republicans are going to come down will be the big question, Don.

LEMON: Let's talk a little bit more about Republicans. Because, you know, the Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, sending a memo to Senators tonight, outlining how impeachment -- the impeachment trial would work. Talk to me about that.

RAJU: Yes. It was basically saying he's not going to be able to do anything under the current process because under the Senate rules, they've sent a schedule already up until January 19th. When January 19 is the first day of the Senate would come back into session to conduct legislative business. They're saying it would require consent of all 100 Senators to bring the Senate back before January 19th.

And they're not going to get the support of all 100 Senators to be in an impeachment trial. So, essentially what he's saying is that, any impeachment trial will start January 20th after Joe Biden becomes president and once the Democrats take control, the Senate majority, that same time.

So, the beginning few days of the Biden administration could be consumed with an impeachment trial of the former President Donald Trump. Such an extraordinary time, Don.

The concern among people is that potentially this could be a distraction for the Biden team in the early onset as he's trying to get his cabinet filled, he is trying to focus on his domestic agenda, which is one reason why Biden did not embrace his idea when asked about it today.

Asked if it's a good idea, he said I'll let the Congress decide what to do. I want to focus on my agenda, a sign that perhaps he wants to get this over with. And we'll see how quickly Democrats can get it over with come January.

LEMON: I think most people would think, Manu that they can walk and chew gum at the same time. Biden can continue on with his agenda and the Congress, meaning the Senate and the House can move on with their impeachment as well.

And they have a better chance with the next Senate of actually getting this done when they're in the majority, at least, the vice president would bring the tie down on this, because they would need more votes. But they have a better chance in the next Senate, in the upcoming one, don't they?

RAJU: Yes, at least to begin some of the process that they're trying to set the rules for the debate here. They would need enough -- they would have majority support to set the parameters for a trial but getting to the threshold that they would need to move forward with barring the president from office for instance, uncertain that they'll be able to get to that point.

LEMON: Again, as I said, a better chance, not necessarily a guarantee. Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate it.

I want to bring in now CNN's senior political analyst, Kirsten Powers, also Mark Mckinnon, the former adviser to George W. Bush and John McCain, and the executive producer of The Circus, on ShowTime and also political commentator Anna Navarro.

Lord. And I mean that, I just had to take a breath, because this is just nuts, Ana. Countless Republicans, as you know, who have enabling this president for years, now trying to rewrite history. This is Marco Rubio earlier today, KTRK Houston exclusive interview with Ted Cruz. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Many of those in that mob were believers in a ridiculous conspiracy theory. And others were lied to, lied to by politicians that were telling them that the Vice President had the power to change the election results.

[23:10:02]

The president's language and rhetoric crossed the line. And it was reckless. I disagree with it. And I have disagreed with the president's language and rhetoric for the last four years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: You know these guys. They were Trump's water boys. They carried his water. And Ana, you are now livid. I know.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I will use another word that's not water boy, but I'm not going to. Look, it's disgusting. It's disgusting for them to think that people are going to forget the complicity of Republicans like Marco Rubio, like Ted Cruz, like Lindsey Graham. Like so many others who sold out their principles who sold their souls in order to be close to power, in order to get invited on Air Force One, to get the Cuba policy they wanted, to get the Supreme Court nominees that they wanted.

That they allowed this indecent, demented, deranged, narcissist to take hold of the country, to take hold of the party. They completely sold out their principles. And while they were busy tweeting out bible verses, or getting sanctimonious speeches on the floor of the Senate, Donald Trump has been doing this. But this is what people need to understand, what we saw this week did not happen in a vacuum.

The reason Donald Trump could incite to violence that way is because he's gotten away with everything because Republicans have allowed him to get away with everything.

They played dumb and look the other way. They did it after Charlottesville. They did it when he put children in cages. They did it when he attacked Black Lives Matter. They did it when he inspired white supremacists to hunt down Hispanics in El Paso.

So, you know what guys? It's a little damn late. This is your legacy, look at yourselves in the mirror and live with the fact that you sold out in order to be close to power. And you have now created a constitutional crisis at the worst moment in American history. You own this.

LEMON: Mark, Lisa Murkowski is the first Republican Senator to call on Trump to resign. A new PBS Marist Poll shows 80 percent of Americans oppose that break-in. Even 80 percent of Republicans. Do you think other Senators could follow suit as Lisa Murkowski?

MARK MCKINNON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I do, Don. I mean, this week the Republican Party clawed its way to the bottled with Trump leading the way. So, the question is, where does the party go from here? And we are seeing some -- the beginning of the division that's happening now with people like Lisa Murkowski and Liz Chaney and others who are beginning to break from the Trump coalition.

And so I think we're going to see more of that over the next couple of days, and more of that in the couple years, and more of that going into 2024. Before this week I would've said that Donald Trump had a stranglehold on the Republican Party. I don't think that's the case anymore. I think that there is a growing division.

And by the way, I think that the Twitter action today was maybe the most significant act of counterterrorism during domestically and the whole Trump administration. I've talked to Olivia Troye today, who was the intelligence officer who worked for Mike Pence. And interestingly she said that when the discussion of domestic terrorism came up, she was either ignored or rejected because people around the president thought that they were Trump supporters.

LEMON: Really? Wow. Kirsten, I think it was you --

MCKINNON: I was going to say, I think that might attract some hearings on that issue.

LEMON: Yes, Kirsten, I think it was you, we had a conversation, I'm not sure if it was on air or off, that I think you said that people are under estimating the gravity of the situation of what happened. And that we haven't fully realized it. The pictures are horrible, but there was going to be more fallout from this and we realized.

I think that was you. But, you know, maybe we have the same sentiment if it wasn't. But, America is horrified of the images of domestic terrorist storming the Capitol. I mean, they need to know who these people are. Who are this insurrectionist? Are you confident about accountability here?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm not. I'm not, you know, and I think that the -- you know, the question is, you know, to sort of Mark's point, is this the bottom? I mean, we don't really know if this is the bottom. And I don't know how you put the genie back in the bottle. Maybe you get some Republican leaders who condemn this and go against it.

But, you know, as Ana was saying, they let this go on for 4 years. And let Donald Trump basically create this cult of people who we've seen not just what they did, you know, in the Capitol, but you see them harassing, you know, Lindsey Graham, who also helped create this monster. You see them harassing Mitt Romney who had stood up against them.

[23:15:00]

I mean, these are people who are out of control. With that video that you showed earlier, which was unwatchable, you know, of an officer being crushed. You know, these are people who do not believe in anything that they say that they believe in. They only believe in Donald Trump. Because they say -- these are the same people, the same president who attacked Black Lives Matter, who is always talking about Blue Lives Matter. And look what they're doing to police officers.

You know? They're getting in fights with police officers. They're crushing them, they're punching them in the face. I mean, the only thing they believe in is Donald Trump. And the last thing I'm going to say is this was -- and you know, Don, we all know. All of us know, because we all said it. This was the most predictable thing that could ever have happened. And everybody who predicted this was called crazy, and Trump derangement syndrome and all these other things. And this was always where this was leading.

LEMON: Yes, and listen, we are going to play that video. Hang on Ana. I just want to tell our viewers. We are going to play that video that Kirsten just reference after the break. But Ana, let me just say this and you can comment. I really do have to go, because we have a lot of -- I want to make sure that everyone gets to see all of that video.

And when I saw the hordes of people that you will see in that video, I want you to imagine that being a group of darker people in that crowd, trying to crush and what -- I think I have agreement from, unanimous agreement from here. I think that there would've been more bloodshed and more arrests. Ana?

NAVARRO: There would have been a massacre. Yes, listen, what I was going to tell you is that, I'm not as optimistic about where the Republican Party goes from here as Mark is. And I do think that there's notable exceptions. Like Mitt Romney. Like Liz Cheney. Like Adam Kissinger.

Listen, after what happened on Wednesday, after people got killed, after they had to hunker down, 130 Republican Congressman still voted for this Trump charade that been feeding lies to his supporters. And seven Senators did the same, including shameful Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley because they're looking at their personal presidential ambition and putting that over country and over national security.

LEMON: Good luck with that.

NAVARRO: I feel optimistic right now.

LEMON: Good luck with that for both of them, especially after this. Thank you. I appreciate it, thank you so much.

So next, that powerful video that we just mentioned. You have got to see it. Showing exactly how brutal the riot was at the Capitol, a riot incited by the president of the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNKNOWN: I wish he would just do what Nixon did in that stepdown. Somebody got to go up there and tell him it's over. Planes waiting for you, you are out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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[23:20:00]

LEMON: OK, so we have some new video tonight. And I need you to see this. We showed it last hour. We're playing it again because it is important. It does come with a warning that this footage is really, really disturbing. What you are about to see is a mob of rioters on the west side of the Capitol, fighting violently to get into the building. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNKNOWN: Just go home. OK. You see me. Just go home. Talk to your buddies and go home.

I'm not hurting you.

(CROWD SCREAMING)

Heave-ho. Heave-ho. Heave-ho. Heave-ho. Heave-ho.

Hey you. Hey you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON (voice-over): If that doesn't move you and it doesn't get you to see just the horror in all of these, these, you know what, doing what they are doing, it shook me, it should shake you.

An officer, a man crushed in a door by a mob of rioters. You hear him screaming. Those rioters who did that, showed up at the Capitol after the president incited them. They went there because they were told by Trump that the election had been stolen from them that they were having their rights taken away from them.

The officer crushed in the doorway. We don't know his condition now. CNN did speak to the person who captured this footage. He says police did eventually succeed in fending off these rioters from entering the Capitol at this spot. Where the exact location, again, we think was on the west side but it's specifically unclear.

The man that shot this footage also said of the rioters, nothing really fazed them. They just kept rotating in and out. They would say we need fresh patriots.

[23:25:13]

This was not patriotic. This was an attempted coup. This was some mess up stuff, incited by the president of the United States. But you know what? Federal prosecutors are announcing charges against 13 people connected to that attack on the Capitol. Law enforcement now searching for more of the people involved as investigators try to piece together just how this riot that killed five people unfolded. Here is Alex Marquardt with the latest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the moment President Donald Trump launched the riot.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.

MARQUARDT: Telling his supporters he'd have their back.

TRUMP: We're going to walk down, and I will be there with you.

MARQUARDT: Trump's family doing what they could to egg on the crowd.

UNKNOWN: We will never, ever, ever stop fighting.

IVANKA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: We are in this fight to the bitter end.

UNKNOWN: This is Donald Trump's Republican Party.

MARQUARDT: And Rudy Giuliani literally talking about taking up arms.

RUDY GUILIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: Let's have a trial by combat.

MARQUARDT: Then they get back into their cars and leave. As the crowd unleashed and fired up, makes its way to the Capitol.

It isn't long before the rioters managed to get through the police line. Overwhelming the officers and breaking through the barricades. The insurrection is underway. Now two major questions -- why wasn't security stronger? And who is this mob whose riot led to the deaths of five people?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): That was a failure, of leadership on the top of the Capitol police.

MARQUARDT: Immediate blame place on the head of the Capitol police who defends his officers saying they acted valiantly. But last night he agreed to step down. The House sergeant of arms resigns as well, recognition of their failure to keep the Capitols secure and lawmakers safe.

How valiantly the Capitol police performed is very much in question. One officer takes a selfie with a rioter. Here others are seen stepping aside from a doorway, allowing the rioters to try to get through. Moments later a plain clothes officer shoots through the door, hitting a woman, an air force veteran who died. As the chaos grew, there were frantic calls to get support from the Pentagon, from the National Guard, from anyone.

GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): I've got a phone call from House majority leader Steny Hoyer who was calling me saying that he and Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer, were all together in an undisclosed bunker.

They've been spirited off to it. Some undisclosed location that the U.S. Capitol police was overwhelmed, that there was no federal law enforcement presence, and that the leaders of Congress were pleading with me as the Governor of Maryland for assistance from Maryland's National Guard and state police.

MARQUARDT: Governor Larry Hogan says special riot police were on the way and agrees to send Maryland's National Guard. But he says that was held up by the Pentagon which needs to approve. It didn't happen, Hogan said, for another 90 minutes.

HOGAN: In the meantime, we did not hesitate. We continued to mobilize and get ready. So that if and when we finally got that approval we could immediately move.

MARQUARDT: The Pentagon now defending itself. Saying it offered assistance to the Capitol police days before the January 6th riot, but it was turned down.

UNKNOWN: We engaged with the Capitol police last week and into the weekend. They confirmed to us after our requests that there were going to come to us with any requests for assistance on Sunday 3-January that they were not going to have any requests for assistance for DOD.

MARQUARDT: The D.C. National Guard had been told by the mayor of Washington to be unarmed and only to help with traffic in the subway.

So far, there has been no serious response by law enforcement.

For most of the afternoon the rioters swarmed the Capitol unchallenged. Not until nightfall did reinforcements finally help push the rioters back.

There is this long line of metropolitan police. So that's the Washington D.C. Police, who in the past half hour have slowly, methodically, peacefully pushed these Trump supporters back from the Capitol.

By then the damage was done. Rioters got on to the Senate floor and up (inaudible) where Vice President Mike Pence had just sat.

[23:30:00]

MARQUARDT (voice-over): This one with plastic handcuffs, as another with a smile on his face snags speaker Pelosi's podium. Congressional offices thrashed. Congressman Jim Clyburn is insinuating that rioters have been told where to find his unmarked office.

REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC): How come they didn't go where my name was? They went where you won't find my name, but they found where I was supposed to be. So, something else is going on untoward here.

MARQUARDT: Another rioter told The New York Times that a Capitol police officer directed him to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's office.

In Pelosi's office, this man kicked his foot up on her desk. He has now been identified as Richard Barnett, a resident charged with three federal counts, including theft of public property.

Arrests and charges are pouring in, almost 100 total arrests for the week. West Virginia State legislator Derrick Evans, who recorded himself storming the Capitol, faces criminal charges.

The Justice Department says, so far, 13 people face federal charges. Forty were charged in superior court. Assault cases, firearms cases. One man charged had filled his red pickup truck with 11 homemade bombs, an assault rifle, and a handgun. The vehicle is found by a bomb squad near the Capitol.

Future charges, the D.C. federal prosecutor said, could include seditious conspiracy, rioting, and insurrection. The D.C. police and FBI putting out photos of persons of interest, asking for help from the public to bring justice to those who brought such a dark day to America.

Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

LEMON: All right, Alex, thank you very much for that.

Social media companies combating the online calls for violence, permanently banning Trump from Twitter. But is it too little, too late?

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[23:35:00]

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LEMON: Twitter permanently suspending President Trump's personal and campaign accounts as tech and social media companies crack down on hateful and extreme right-wing speech.

Reddit shot down a pro-Trump group today. Google is banning the Twitter alternative Parler from the Android app store, a move Apple is reportedly considering, as well. And Steve Bannon's YouTube channel has been banned. But is it too little, too late? Let's discuss now.

CNN's chief media correspondent is Mr. Brian Stelter, and he joins us. Brian, good evening to you. So, critics have been calling for Trump to be banned from Twitter for a very long time. Why is this crackdown happening now?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Because he's a lame duck, he's about to leave office, he can't hurt these companies with regulations anymore, and now it is a lot easier to ban him. Sorry, Don, is that cynical? Because that's the truth.

But the official reason from Twitter and from Facebook and YouTube is that Trump is using these platforms, potentially inciting violence. That is a very real fear among these companies.

They are looking ahead to an inauguration day. They are worried about further protests that could turn into riots in the days leading up to inauguration day. They are looking at some of the tweets that are being posted and saying there could be further violence.

What we are seeing is online radicalization, extremism taking root in real life, in reality, in Washington. And Twitter doesn't want to be responsible. These executives don't want any more blood on their hands, Don.

LEMON: Yeah. And, you know, he tried to figure out a work around for his Twitter band by tweeting from the official POTUS account.

STELTER: Yeah.

LEMON: That was quickly deleted, as well. But he hinted at plans to create -- quote -- "our own platform." What is that all about, Brian?

STELTER: He can try to do that. He can go off to fringe social media networks. He does have other ways to communicate with the public. I am not going to tell you anything that he hasn't already thought about. But, you know, Donald Trump has an e-mail list with tens and millions of e-mail addresses. He has text message, phone numbers for many, many Americans.

This campaign, this White House has lots of ways to reach the public, and it's the Twitter feed that the president has been obsessed with, and that is why this is such a blow to him personally and why we have to wonder about how he's handling this.

Look, Don, for four years, there had been concerns about the president's mental health. I know sometimes it's an uncomfortable thing to bring up, but it is front and center right now.

All of his toys have been taken away. His megaphones have been taken away, Twitter, Facebook and all the rest. He can claim he's going to run off to some fringe website no one has ever heard of, but that's not going to have the same impact as Twitter.

LEMON: He can just do what the -- I was going to say real presidents did before him and that was put out a press release. But, you know, hey, I'm old school --

STELTER: Or hold a press conference.

LEMON: Exactly, hold a press conference.

STELTER: Hold a press conference, you know.

LEMON: Thank you, Brian. I appreciate it. Thanks so much.

The feds say police found a truck full of bombs and guns near the Capitol during the riot. Those details are next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:40:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So we have some breaking news on the investigation into the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Federal prosecutors say police found a truck packed with bombs and guns just two blocks from the Capitol building on Wednesday. We are also learning about a man charged with allegedly texting that he wanted to shoot House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It comes as a new video posted online shows rioters breaking through police barricades and threatening Pelosi.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNKNOWN: Tell Pelosi we're coming for that (bleep). Tell (bleep) Pelosi we're coming for her. (Bleep) traitor (bleep). We're coming for her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Kara Scannell joins me now. Kara, thank you. I appreciate it. What are you learning about this threat to the House speaker?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Well, Don, this is one of several threats that we're learning about that have been detailed in federal charges today.

This is a situation involving a pickup truck. There was a pickup truck from Alabama that was parked two blocks from the U.S. Capitol. Inside, authorities say, were 11 homemade bombs. And inside these mason jars were materials that prosecutors say would have been the equivalent if ignited of napalm.

Now, in addition to those 11 Molotov cocktails, they also found an assault rifle and a pistol. When they did apprehend this man, hours after this truck was sitting just two blocks from the Capitol as all of this was going on undetected, they did track down the man, and on him, they also found a pistol, and he was charged with having an unregistered weapon.

But it is one of several criminal charges that we are seeing as prosecutor's realty begin to detail to the public just the size and danger that was just so close to the Capitol and even inside the Capitol. Don?

LEMON: All right. Kara, thank you. I appreciate your reporting this evening.

[23:44:58]

LEMON: Incitement of insurrection, that's what Democrats are citing as a reason to impeach Trump. What are the chances he'll the first president to be impeached twice?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is issuing President Trump a stark choice: Resign immediately or face impeachment for the second time.

White House advisers say, as of tonight, there is no chance Trump will resign. If he doesn't, House Democrats, they plan to introduce an impeachment resolution on Monday, accusing Trump of inciting insurrection. [23:50:04]

LEMON: Let's discuss with CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein and Harry Litman, who is a former U.S. attorney and a former deputy assistant attorney general. Good evening, gentlemen. Harry, first.

HARRY LITMAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hi, Don.

LEMON: So, CNN obtained a draft of the impeachment resolution against President Trump.

LITMAN: Yeah.

LEMON: A single article, incitement of insurrection. It is about the worst thing a president can do. So give me your thoughts.

LITMAN: It's about the worst thing a president can do. Look, Don, it's breathtaking. This -- no law is more important to democracy than fair elections, peaceful transfer of power.

And you have a president who has carried on a two-month campaign to eviscerate it, culminating and working up a lynch mob of domestic terrorists to ransack the Capitol. And as you have just heard, by the way, look to assassinate the speaker of the House.

No crime and misdemeanor has ever been higher than this in the history of the presidency.

LEMON: Mm-hmm. Harry, the current draft includes the president's call, pressuring Georgia Secretary of State brad Raffensperger to find votes to overturn the election. Why include that?

LITMAN: It includes it but it doesn't change the count. So it includes it as a paragraph just for evidence. To show his intent, which will be the big issue here, at least it would in a court of law. In the Senate, it's what the Senate wants it to be.

But it shows this is part of an ongoing campaign. He's been doing it since November 4th. And this is just a vivid example of what he's doing and why he's doing it.

LEMON: All right. To Ron now. President Trump could be the -- will be the first president impeached twice. I want you to listen to what two of the authors of the resolution told CNN today. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): It was a coup to try to keep President Trump in power. And we just can't simply say, you know what, let's just wait 12 days, he'll be gone. We have a responsibility to hold him accountable.

REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): He incited this mob to invade the Capitol, not because Congress was debating tax cuts, but because we were accepting the certified Electoral College results that show Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are going to be the president and vice president. So, he was attempting a coup and an insurrection, and that's what this article impeachment addresses.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Ron, when you hear that, what choice did lawmakers have after the president incited violence to stop the peaceful transition of power?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah, look, I mean there is an overwhelming of sense among Democrats that there have to be consequences for this if for no other reason than to make it less likely to happen again.

There -- you know, whether that is impeachment, whether that is prosecution, I think they feel like there could be both. My understanding is they have over 160 co-sponsors already. When they introduce this on Monday, it will probably be higher by the time it is introduced. They believe they could have it on the floor sometime next week. A provision in it would bar Trump from holding federal office ever again.

But getting all the way over to 218 may be complicated. I mean, there are only 222 Democrats now, many fewer than in the last Congress. There is not a lot of movement among Republicans. I mean, he got to stand -- you know, he got a loud ovation on Thursday morning when he called the Republican National Committee. And in a national poll tonight, his approval rating among Republicans was still 77 percent.

But I think Democrats are very committed that there needs to be a consequence. And if it's not impeachment, I think many of them are looking to prosecution, which would be a -- an interesting and important decision for the Biden Justice Department.

LEMON: Yeah, certainly will be. Harry, to you again. The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, says any Senate impeachment trial would not start before Trump leaves office unless there is an agreement of all 100 senators. What would a trial look like under a democratic-led Senate?

LITMAN: Well, first, it would be pretty unusual. It has happened once, and even then, it's not clear. The Senate will ultimately decide this, Don. That's the major point. If they want to have it after, they can have it after.

But it's trouble for Biden, I think. Right now, he's got a sort of pitch-perfect tone saying Congress will do that, I am doing COVID. But if he begins his administration, his work on COVID and the economy simultaneous with an impeachment trial going on against a former president who has already left office, that begins to be sort of, you know, feet tripping over each other and it's problematic.

Can it be done legally after Trump left office if there are arguments on either side? But the short answer is if the Senate thinks it can, then it can. There is no court that can decide otherwise.

LEMON: So, Ron, is this about protecting President Trump or protecting Republicans or both? BROWNSTEIN: McConnell delaying?

LEMON: Yeah.

BROWNSTEIN: I think -- I think both. Look, I mean, there -- the -- it is an open question whether Republicans are willing to confront the magnitude of what happened.

[23:55:03]

BROWNSTEIN: You know, there -- as I said before, anti-democratic sentiments, small D democratic sentiment is spreading in the party as the fear of demographic eclipse broadens in the republican coalition.

I mean, there's no question in polling that there are a lot of Republican voters who are open to anti-democratic, small D means. And whether Republicans, you know, for all the noise, a majority of House Republicans voted after the riot to overturn the results in Arizona and Pennsylvania, in effect, to say, we want Donald Trump to be president for four more years.

So, the party really, I don't think, has come to the full grips with the magnitude of what has happened. McConnell, as he often does, is trying to shield them from that. But Democrats, I think, are committed that there have to be consequences of some sort because we have watched, as Harry said, for two months an escalating campaign through every possible means of pressuring state legislatures and going to the courts, and now unleashing a mob to try to overturn an election.

And if you basically say, OK, that's it, walk away, you are asking for more trouble down the road.

LEMON: Setting a very bad precedent. Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate it. I'll see you soon. Enjoy your weekend.

LITMAN: Thanks, Don.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

LEMON: Thanks for watching, everyone. What a week, huh? Our coverage continues.

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